The Trump administration is set to move $771 million of funding away from projects earmarked to the European Deterrence Initiative, a program created by the Obama administration that was designed to reassure anxious European allies that the U.S. would back them up in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
From 2014 to 2019, the Deterrence Initiative’s budget ballooned from $1 billion to $6.5 billion; Trump himself has pushed for increases to the program in his budget proposals. So while plenty of EDI funding still remains, deferred cash from the program accounts for two out of every five dollars that the administration is diverting to the wall from overseas—raising more questions about Trump’s inconsistent posture on the threat posed by Russia, along with his willingness to support NATO, which he has characterized as a financial burden on the U.S.
Those familiar with the region are now sounding the alarm about what signals the raiding of EDI sends to Russia and to U.S. allies in Europe. “The signal it sends to Russia,” said a congressional aide, “is that the U.S. isn’t serious about its deterrence initiative for Europe, we’re not serious about our commitment to NATO and to our allies. The messaging is bad, and it’s compounded with all the other bad things Trump has done to harm relations with Europe.”